CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO: Chief Wayland Harris

From across his desk, Chief Wayland Harris eyed Josie like he’d caught her shoplifting. In fact, the look he gave her over the top of his reading glasses was worse than the one he had given her when he asked her to turn in her gun and badge and put her on paid suspension. Then he had looked at her with disappointment, but today it was almost as if she were someone else—a stranger dragged into his office for questioning. She didn’t get it. Back then, she’d done something wrong. She knew that. She’d never say it out loud because she loved her job too much to jeopardize it, but she knew it was true. This time, she had merely been a bystander. She’d even disarmed June Spencer. Sort of.

“Quinn,” he said. The fact that he didn’t call her by her rank bothered her, but she kept her composure. “Why is it that every time there is a catastrophe in this town, you’re right in the middle of it? Did I not make myself clear when I told you to stay home? Do you not understand the meaning of a suspension?”

“Sir,” Josie said. “I was just visiting my grandmother.”

“And you were just getting gas when that SUV crashed into the Stop and Go, is that right?”

“It is. Wrong place, wrong time—or the right place at the right time, depending on how you look at it.”

He hunched forward, leaning his elbows on his desk. He was a large man. Some of the officers had nicknamed him Grizzly, or Grizz for short, because of his large, barrel-shaped frame. That, and the hair protruding from his bulbous nose. “The way I look at it is that I suspended you three weeks ago and yet you’ve shown up at every major crime in this city since then. Are you trying to get fired?”

Her face flushed. Not from embarrassment, but from frustration. “Sir, I promise you, none of this was on purpose.”

His ice-blue eyes flicked toward the door quickly, then back to her. “Why did you go into that room tonight?”


“Why did you go into the room with June Spencer tonight? That girl could have killed you. You weren’t armed. You’re not a cop right now. What she did to Sherri Gosnell…” He shook his head. “Let me ask you this: are you trying to get killed?”

“No, I just—”

“I told you to keep your head down, Quinn. You’re like a damn feral cat. Into every damn thing.”

“Chief,” she said, “I think June Spencer was with Isabelle Coleman.” “What?”

Her words tumbled over one another as she told him about the strange encounter with June. “I saw a Facebook photo of Isabelle Coleman with that same tongue barbell. It was taken a few months before she was abducted.”

As she spoke, he stared at her, his expression carefully blank. It was his specialty. Good or bad, his face was unreadable. When she finished, he let out a lengthy sigh. “Quinn, I hate to break it to you, but nowadays all these teenage girls have piercings. Hell, my oldest got one last year. I wanted to kill her.”

“But sir, June Spencer would not have a barbell that said Princess,” Josie said. “Hers would say Bitch or it would have a skull on it, or something. Listen to me, I don’t think that June was with Drummond for the last year. I think she was being held by the same person who took Isabelle Coleman. I think she saw Coleman sometime in the last week, and they swapped. It’s a message, don’t you see?”

The wiry hairs of the chief’s left eyebrow lifted skeptically. “Quinn, do you hear yourself? Sending messages with tongue piercings?”

“It’s too big a coincidence. Please, look at Coleman’s Facebook page. You’ll see.” Josie kept going. “What if Isabelle Coleman and June Spencer saw one another? Did you finish the search of Drummond’s property?”

“There’s nothing there. We took the whole place apart and dug up his entire yard—four feet down. You could drop a pool in there now. There’s nothing. No sign of Coleman.”

“So, she wasn’t with Drummond. They were both being held somewhere else and then they got separated. What if June saw Coleman after she was abducted, but before she ended up with Drummond? Have you checked Drummond’s known associates?”

“Drummond didn’t have any known associates. He doesn’t even have

any friends. I tried calling his only known relative, an uncle in Colorado. The guy told me Drummond doesn’t deserve a funeral. City’s paying for it.”

“What about from prison?”

The chief pointed a finger at her. “Quinn. I mean it, now. Stop. I appreciate your telling me what happened with that girl, but you need to go home. We will follow up every lead. You know that. But you’re out. Leave the police work to us.”

Josie sensed this might be her only chance to plead her case for getting back on the force. When would she next be in front of him? When he called her back, whenever the hell that would be. She wasn’t about to hold her breath. “I’m sorry, but listen to me. Things are moving quickly. You’re short-staffed. You’re working a high-profile abduction where there might be more than one person involved, a shootout, a kidnapping

—again, where multiple possible suspects are involved—and now a murder.”

“You think I don’t know what we’re dealing with right now, Quinn?” “That’s not what I said. You need help. Let me come back. Two weeks. You can put me back out on suspension after things settle down.” “That’s not how it works, and you know it. As always, I appreciate your enthusiasm, but you’re on thin ice here. The DA is all over my ass to conduct a proper investigation. You have a better chance of winning the lottery than that woman deciding not to press charges. I’m trying to figure out a way to get you out of the mess you made before all this shit started. You being in the middle of every other damn mess isn’t helping.”

“She won’t press charges,” Josie said.

His voice rose to a near shout. “Quinn, you knocked out two of her teeth! How in the hell do you know she won’t press charges?”

Because what she did was far worse than me elbowing her in the face, Josie thought. She kept her mouth shut this time; the last time they’d had this conversation it had sounded like a justification. Instead, she tried, “I’m sorry. I’ll try to… fly under the radar from now on. But please, just think about it. We can do it quietly. Put me on the tip line or let me guard June Spencer while she’s in holding. I’ll keep my head down, I promise.”

He sighed. “I said no, Quinn. I brought you in here to put you on notice. Stay out of the shit, will you?”

She wanted to scream. Instead, she asked, as calmly as possible, “What about the Ramona thing?”

Slowly, his eyelids dropped. He raised his head to the ceiling and inhaled deeply, his way of counting to ten. She’d pushed him too far. His

blue eyes locked on her again. “Did you not hear a goddamn thing I said?” “I did. I was just wondering. Now more than ever, we need to find her, don’t you think? What if she’s connected to Isabelle Coleman

somehow? What if she knows where Coleman is?”

The chief rubbed a hand over his eyes. “There’s no Ramona. I got the report after the shootout, and we checked every possibility. There are six Ramonas in the NAMUS database listed as missing, and none of them are from Pennsylvania. Not even close. We checked out Spencer’s house. Talked to coworkers, friends, his ex-girlfriend. No one knows anyone with that name. We don’t even have anyone named Ramona in the city— accounted for or unaccounted for. It’s a dead end, Quinn.”

“But don’t you think it’s weird that both Spencers brought the name up? It must mean something. Whoever Ramona is, she must be important.”

“What’s weird is you pushing all this when you’re suspended. I don’t appreciate you second-guessing the quality of work that this department is putting out. Now unless you want to be on unpaid suspension, you better get out of my office right now.”


“Now,” he hollered.

His words hit her like a physical slap. She gripped the armrests of her chair and pushed herself to standing. It wasn’t that he had yelled at her. The chief was well known for his big, booming voice. It was the way he looked at her. For the second time in the last five minutes, she felt like a stranger in her own world.

She kept her eyes on him and backed out of the room.

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Written by Amazing Thing Admin

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CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE: Noah Fraley’s desk